Conceptions of Temporality: Reconsidering Time in an Age of Impending Emergency
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionTheoria. 2020, 86 (6), 769-782. 10.1111/theo.12265
The predominant contemporary concept of time is arguably measurable time, promoted as being in accordance with science. This is commonly understood as the time of physics, as, for instance, E. A. Milne claims in an article from 1950 on the modern conception of time, contrasting this with Plato's description of time as the “moving image of eternity”. The prevalence of an emphasis on measurability within such a conception of time is hard to avoid, although this can be nuanced somewhat. In this article I turn to the ancient Greek notion of kairos in order to find another approach to the question of conceptions of temporality. A main objective is to indicate what this concept signifies in terms of adjusting to circumstances, catching the right moment and paying attention to due measure. I also briefly consider Baltasar Gracián's notions of festina lente and détencion in an attempt to show how this suggests a way in which we may be able to develop the ability to do the right thing at the right moment.